Review: Gossamer Gear The One Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Gossamer Gear The One
$300, 1 lb. 6 oz.
gossamergear.com

When the wind blew strong gusts on some nights during a six-day, north-south traverse of more than 90 miles on the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park in September, I wondered out of self-interest how well Gossamer Gear’s The One would stand up to them—given its tall profile, lightweight materials, and design that utilizes trekking poles for pitching. As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. The One not only held up well, it demonstrated why it is quite possibly the best solo ultralight tent on the market today.

A single-wall, non-freestanding, A-frame tent that pitches using two adjustable trekking poles set to 125cm (or custom aluminum poles sold separately for $38), with an interior tent featuring mesh bug netting and a bathtub floor, The One tent takes several minutes to pitch, even once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Setup involves staking the four corners, followed by inserting trekking poles and staking the vestibule and rear guyline. It also requires a minimum of six stakes, or 10 if you want to secure the bathtub floor (rather than just having it hang in place, which works well enough)—and just pounding them in can take time when the ground is hard-packed dirt or rocky, as we encountered in designated campsites in Glacier.


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Gossamer Gear The One ultralight backpacking tent in Glacier National Park.
Gossamer Gear The One ultralight backpacking tent in Glacier National Park.

But when pitched properly, the stability with two trekking poles is as good as many freestanding, three-season tents, in part because its tall walls are angled to deflect wind. Nonetheless, Gossamer Gear recommends pitching the tent with one of the ends pointing into the wind, rather than the large front or back sides, and ideally finding a sheltered campsite. In Glacier, our campsites were in forest every night but one, when our tents sat at the edge of a meadow, and The One withstood direct gusts of 20-30 mph that night without a problem. While we had no rain in Glacier, The One’s entrance has a drip line that keeps rain out of the tent interior when coming and going.

The Gossamer Gear The One solo ultralight tent in Glacier National Park.
The Gossamer Gear The One solo ultralight tent in Glacier National Park.

The front side features a tall, wide, zippered door on the mesh interior tent and a vestibule that sheltered my 58-liter ultralight pack and a pair of boots on one side, so that I easily entered and exited without having to climb over that stored gear. The two vestibule flaps can be individually rolled up on clear nights to give you lots of fresh air (plus maximum ventilation to prevent condensation) and a partial view of the stars. With both vestibule flaps rolled back, The One’s front side becomes a tall, flat, vertical wall, so you might not furl both flaps up if the wind is hitting that side of the tent.

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Gossamer Gear The One interior.
Gossamer Gear The One interior.

With no door on the back side (it being a solo tent), the SilNylon wall has a beaked awning (see lead photo at top of story) that overhangs a triangle of mesh on the upper part of the wall, providing cross-ventilation and high-low ventilation created by floor-level mesh at the tent ends. This ventilation significantly minimizes condensation, a problem that plagues some single-wall tents. While I would expect some condensation on calm, cold nights with the vestibule completely closed up—and Gossamer Gear acknowledges that possibility on its website—my group (taking turns using it) saw no moisture accumulate inside the tent, even on a calm night in the high 30s.

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Gossamer Gear The One with pole in place.
Gossamer Gear The One with pole in place.

The interior living space is excellent and the headroom may be unmatched among one-person backcountry tents, especially ultralight models. The floor covers 19.6 square feet, with 36 inches of width at the head end and 24 inches at the foot, plus 88 inches of length; the middle of the tent has four or five inches of space on each side of a standard, 20-inch-wide air mattress. The peak height reaches a cavernous 46 inches in the center of the tent (where you would sit upright). I’m five feet, eight inches, and I easily fit extra clothes and gear inside.

The One’s 1200mm, PU-coated SilNylon fabric is ultralight—7-denier in the body and 10-denier in the bathtub floor—meaning that to ensure a longer life for the tent, you should use a ground cloth, which obviously adds weight. The tent comes with taped seams, 14 stakes, and guylines rigged.

At a mere 22 ounces (without the optional tent poles when using trekking poles to pitch it) and packing down to 6×9 inches in its stuff sack, The One ranks among the very lightest and most-compact backcountry shelters on the market—and may be unmatched for living space, which explains its popularity among dedicated ultralighters. Although you should choose fairly protected campsites for it, that’s not difficult on many U.S. long trails or public lands. And 300 bucks is a good price for a high-quality ultralight tent.

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Gossamer Gear The One

Space-to-Weight Ratio
Sturdiness
Ease of Use
Ventilation
Features
Value

Summary



A single-wall A-frame shelter that pitches using trekking poles, with stability as good as many freestanding, three-season tents, palatial space, and good ventilation to minimize condensation, the Gossamer Gear The One may be the best solo ultralight tent on the market today.

4

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See my review of “The 8 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents” and all of my reviews of backpacking tents, ultralight backpacking tents, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear that I like.

See also my “5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent” and “How to Choose the Best Ultralight Tent for You.” (Both of those stories require a paid subscription to The Big Outside to read, which costs as little as five bucks, or just pennies over $4 per month for an entire year.)

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

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6 thoughts on “Review: Gossamer Gear The One Ultralight Backpacking Tent”

  1. Great review, it was very helpful in helping me choose a new tent! Thank you! I recently bought the One and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. Happy hiking!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Emilie, I’m glad the review helped you decide on this tent. I think you’ll like it. I’d appreciate any comments you’d think to add after using it.

      Reply
    • Michael I’m really enjoying your website. I recently read some reviews that talked about this tent and heavy rain. Some camper said it did a really good job and other people said they had a few issues whether it was due to their lack of expertise with this type of tent or just really harsh weather conditions.
      I was wondering how much of a pain in the butt it is to deal with the tent like this when it rains a lot like is it worth the trade off in the weight gain versus durability.

      Reply
      • Hi Matt,

        Thanks for the nice words and the good question. I’m not sure what issues some people had with getting wet, but The One has a good drip line at the entrance and an awning over one vent, plus it’s seam-taped, so I think anyone pitching it well should have no problem with rain coming inside.

        If condensation was the reason for some users getting wet inside, as I wrote in the review, condensation is often a problem with single-wall tents and could happen on cold, calm nights, especially if camping very close to water (avoid doing that). But with the cross-ventilation provided by the protected vent and the door, The One ventilates well for a single-wall tent. The abundant interior space also makes it less likely your bag will brush against a wet wall if you do get condensation.

        Packing up a wet tent is never fun and I’m not persuaded that a non-freestanding tent presents any (or much) greater obstacles to drying it out than a freestanding tent.

        There are always tradeoffs for ultralight gear; one of those with The One is fabric durability (I haven’t had problems but that’s very light fabric). However, if you really want an ultralight solo shelter, you can hardly do better and the tradeoffs are not significant.

        I hope that’s helpful.

        Reply

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